I want to extend my warmest regards to the British Tamil community as you celebrate Chithirai Thiru Naal.
This occasion provides an important opportunity to reflect upon the many positive contributions British Tamils have made to this country’s social, cultural, political and economic life.
For those Tamils with family, friends and loved ones in Sri Lanka, I hope that this New Year offers a genuine change to set the island on the path to justice, dignity and peace. The Labour Party has supported the calls for an independent, international investigation into the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides during the country’s armed conflict. I commend the UN Human Rights Council’s recent resolution which paves the way for such an inquiry, and I am please that there is now cross-party consensus in Britain for such action to be taken.
This investigation will be a significant step towards securing accountability and helping to lay the foundations for reconciliation in Sri Lanka. It is vital that strong support is given to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as it undertakes this crucial work.
However, the Labour Party remains deeply concerned by the plight faced by many Tamils in Sri Lanka, as well as with the on-going perpetration of human rights violations. It is imperative that the British Government and others bring pressure to bear on the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Sri Lankans are respected.
Wishing you and your families all the best for the year ahead.